When weekends arrive its back out in the field, with a little time for dinner and drinking coffee in country pubs combating field guides and bird call recordings- we repeat over and over.
Spending 5 days out on the reserves, then another 2 in the field its hard to break away from what is my occupation and how I occupy my time, but this week has been a cracker so far…
Friday night I’d had a tip off of some Little Owls occupying a toilet block roof in Kent, so it was out in the sunset, which threw pink hues into a milky blue sky to get a closer look. As described one sat patiently stalking from above, through the bins its angry little eyes pierced through the darkness, from afar it could have been mistaken for somemthing conmon, so tiny. It is my favorite thing to head out with directions and determination that works as planned, a rare thing.
Today took us on a trip to Dering Woods, in the notorious haunts of Pluckley, to try and spot out the White Admiral butterfly. I knew as we left they wouldn’t be on the wing with forecasts of 100% grey…all day. I hoped however (like with the small pearl bordered frit) we would by chance find them hanging around on food plants or foliage. Our walk passed us through deep breaths of fresh airy coppiced glades, little mosaics of light in the shady wood. I like passing through the juxtaposition of shade and light, noting how the flora changes between the two. Like plants I recognise my hungering for the sunlight, when in the shade for to long, at most opportunities I find myself veering towards the lighter breaks in the canopy and today that veering found us in the uppermost corner of a corn field.
We sat for a while and I admired the corns equal level of growth and the extra dimension it gave the landscape, each spiklet and awn indistinct on the eye in a holographic fashion. As I sat I noticed hunkered down a butterfly I was not familiar with and as it flew away it’s invisible sapphire disposition exposrd itself with each wing beat.
‘It was blue, no? More purple?’
Taking a look around on a floor carpeted with Oak leaves I thought, it must be the Purple Hairstreak, a closer look and it was! Fresh and Female. She took flight and we watched her move along the field of corn and take rest awaiting the sun to shine.
Telling ghost stories and completing rumors we continued on and on and my minds eye flickered a feeling that we had gone on for too long, then out of no-where a rambling women appeared from the beaten track yielding a map. She explained to us how she’d had a nightmare of a morning trekking through pea fields and closed off horse fields, apparently this was a particularly tricky route to navigate and she kindly gave her best directions and left us with;
‘I’ll be pleased if I get out of here, then I’ve cracked it’ and she would take her directions back to the rambling society of Maidstone. I admired her determination, her pace as she walked alone. It felt to me like she was the messenger of the forest and as we left her we took a track which led us on a path of Blackcaps, Nuthatch’s, Treecreepers, Long-tailed Tits, Woodpeckers and more Hornbeam, Oak and scattered sweet chestnut.
We were so taken by the birdsong we sat for a while, picking out this Puss moth Caterpillar, a Poplar leaf beetle, White Admiral’s, Meadow Browns, a Red Necked Footman (pictured below) and a mouse that laid looking half dead, still warm then disappeared in some resurrected form. I was so taken by the Wildlife at Dering Wood that I passed hunger twice before we left shaken with a thought to our rambling friend who I hope now is home, warm and safe with supper.